María was the model | OP-ED
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On Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023, Philadelphia lost the chance to have its first Latina mayor as María Quiñones Sánchez became the first major Democratic candidate to drop out of the hotly-contested race.
As she told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the obnoxious, obscene amount of money that is shaping the race just got away from us.”
A week earlier, the April campaign finance reports came out for all the candidates, and Quiñones Sánchez was one of two at the bottom of the pack with just under $800,000 raised. Only Derek Green had raised less, and he also dropped out shortly after Quiñones Sánchez.
All other Democratic candidates brought in north of $1 million, either through grassroots efforts, PACs or self funding.
Still, her fellow competitors were sure to keep her name alive during last week’s mayoral forums — citing her recently-released Agenda Latina or celebrating her 14 years of public service, to name a few of the mentions.
They were absolutely courting her for an endorsement, which she hasn’t revealed yet, but to reduce María’s impact to a short, 30-second answer at a forum, a two-paragraph tweet, or even a 500-word op-ed like this is not capable of telling her full legacy.
It’s not done being built — don’t get us wrong — she will be back in another leadership role shortly within Philadelphia or the region, but for now, Quiñones Sánchez deserves to reflect on what was transformative service to her district and the city as a whole.
Who better to reflect on that than the publication that’s featured her on its cover more than any other leader in its almost 30-year history?
For AL DÍA, María Quiñones Sánchez epitomized — as a young community journalist and a seasoned citywide leader — the kind of story and journey that it still tries to celebrate and will continue to as long as it still prints editions or maintains a website.
María was the AL DÍA model.
She was born in the community, raised in that community, elevated to become one of its leaders, and maintained a fighting spirit for it through every cathartic victory and crushing defeat.
Those fights spanned from the streets of North Philadelphia to City Hall.
And we’re also not just talking about the Philadelphia Latino community that Quiñones Sánchez called home.
Sure, she was the community’s only (and first Latina) voice on City Council for 14 years, beating the Democratic establishment’s efforts to upend her every step of the way. But as she grew in City Council and became more calculated with her fights, she realized the similarities more than the differences between neighborhoods like her own and those across Philadelphia.
Her perspective was rooted in the Latino experience, but wise to realize that no matter the issue, it wasn’t always just a Latino experience. And as she fought for issues pertinent to her Latino community and advocated for its betterment, the city as a whole would follow on that same path of progress and improvement.
That mission is carried on today by those following in her footsteps at City Hall, but also by anyone inspired by Quiñones Sánchez’s story — whether we told it or not (we probably did).
So thank you María for allowing us to follow your journey this far and we can’t wait to hear about what’s next!